I asked my ICAN sisters to share their experiences with their scars during pregnancy and birth with me. I think their responses illustrate that "normal is a wide canyon" (an often thought of quote from my midwife) quite beautifully.
"I had some twinges there for a while, I think in the second trimester. I don't remember if I had emotional issues about it...probably...I was pretty emotional in general. I remember it hurting the same way it did shortly after surgery. Which brought back a lot of freaky memories. At first each pain yanked me back into that time again, although only for a minute or so. I definitely hated mine for a long time. Now I think of it as a battle wound." Katie, 10 years between births
"I tried to focus more on living in the present...& on growing a healthy baby, on my upcoming vbac, on staying positive & letting go of past baggage. I * still * have occasional pain in my scar, and when I was preggo, I thought it might rip open it felt soooo stretched. But I really tried to get those thoughts out of my brain quickly!! I only had 9 months between my pregnancies...and healed very, very slowly. I got pregnant right after I started to feel normal again!My c-section was 3 years ago & I was laying on the floor with the girls the other day. I moved wrong & had a super sharp pain in my scar! Ugh." Viva, 18 months between births
"My scar was so far below my enormous belly that I never thought about it....it wasn't like I could ever see it. I didn't feel anything there. I don't now except on rare occasions. Oh- and I had a really intense massage done around it once....it felt so flippin' strange. But maybe that really did help? My first scar was red and "angry" and puffy for a long time. My second scar (ERCS, "window" rupture discovered during delivery) was a nice, thin white line from the start. It totally mirrors the experiences I had, which I find interesting. " Maggie, 21 months between births
"I had pulling and tugging during movement, and the occasional sharpish twinge in a certain spot. I've had a ton of massage work on my scar, though, so I imagine it would have been worse if I hadn't. Worse for the first one, though still present for the second. The first VBAC and second VBAC were just under three years apart." Missy, 3 years between births (twice)
"With my first scar, I think something happened when the nerves were reconnecting. I could not even touch it without giving myself the willies. It physically bothered me to touch it. I believe it also affected Katelyn when I was pregnant with her. I think she could feel it, too. When I did touch my scar, I would get the strange nerve sensations and she would react. After my second c-section (ugh), I do not have the same nerve irritation. I do not think people realize that scars can physically hurt, even way after the initial pain is gone." Allison, 25 months between births
"My scar stayed very pink (red in places) and tender to touch for years. Sometimes it would ache and throb for no apparent reason. I had certain pairs of underwear and pants that I just couldn't wear anymore because of the pain. When I became pregnant with my second in March of 2010 and as I started growing, the scar hurt worse and worse. The way my pregnant belly seemed to abruptly "stop" right at the scar line made me feel like my scar was under tremendous pressure. By the end of my pregnancy, I wondered if my scar would hold up. As far as the emotions attached to the scar, when I consider it the work of the OB, as if the scar belongs to him because he put it there, that makes me angry and I feel violated. But, when I consider it the place where I birthed my precious daughter and see the scar is MINE, I can love it as part of my story. After my VBAC with my 2nd baby, my scar has healed so quickly. It is now white/flesh colored and is barely visible. I also can put pressure against it and I feel no pain. We can't always control the elements of our life stories (or we just don't know any better) but we can control what we take from it, how we grow from it and how we use it from that point on. So I have to admit I kind of love my scar now." Jenna, 20 months between births
"I had no scar changes during my second pregnancy. I did oil my belly, hips, and butt daily with apricot kernel oil, in the hopes of avoiding stretch marks (happy to report, nary a one!). In doing so, I did also oil the scar, but never with a particular intention of improving its appearance. It looked so bad for so long, I kind of gave up on trying to make it look better.
Being able to communicate about it with Annika has really helped my acceptance. One day, she asked "Mommy what is this on your belly?" and I answered "It's a scar from where you came out of my belly. I couldn't push you out of my vagina like I did with Heidi [Annika was present at Heidi's birth, and watching when she came out], so the doctor cut my belly so we could get you out." She thought for a moment, then looked really sad and said "But Mommy, I don't want you to be cut". I replied "Sweetie, I didn't want to be cut either, but I tried and tried to push you out and I couldn't, and I really really wanted to meet you, so I'm glad the doctor was able to cut me so we could get you out." She thought about it some more, touched my scar again, and her face brightened. "I like it. It looks like a smile" Gotta love a 2.5 year old's outlook on life :)" Jen, 30 months between births
What have your experiences been with your scar during subsequent pregnancies? How did you handle them?